What is WAAC?
Women’s Abortion Action Campaign (WAAC), formed in 1972 by the Women’s Liberation Movement, began as a national campaign in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.
Both WAAC and Children by Choice (Qld) are long-standing Australian abortion rights groups still actively campaigning and lobbying today.
WAAC also works actively with abortion rights groups throughout Australia and internationally.
Women's health vs politics
Since the 1970s, WAAC has worked with supporters and organisations such as trade unions, women’s health services and migrant groups.
Today, WAAC remains active, and whenever there is an attack against abortion rights (eg through anti-abortion bills in federal or state parliament) regional WAAC groups become active.
WAAC also prepares submissions and statements for parliamentary committees and inquiries into abortion-related issues, public events and educational activities.
Real progress in securing accessible, affordable abortion, access to quality abortion services and continuity of care remains blocked, despite continuing majority community support of a woman’s right to choose abortion.
In Australia, legal precedents following abortion-related criminal cases mean safe abortion services are available to those who can afford and are able to access them. The days of extensive police corruption and backyard abortionists as the only option may be past, but access, affordability and quality of service remain major issues.
Women’s health remains vulnerable to attacks by anti-choice extremists and politicians who trade women’s rights for political purposes ~ what should be a personal health matter is used as a bargaining chip.
Repeal - not reform
Surveys consistently show more than 80 per cent community support for a woman’s right to choose ~ and access, safe abortion.
WAAC is committed to the crucial demand – repeal of all abortion laws
A factor undermining the demand for repeal of all abortion laws is the ‘conscience’ vote on abortion in major political parties.
Parties court the vote of anti-abortionists to suit their political purposes ~ in 1996 deals between the Howard government and then-Senator Harradine blocked women’s access to the abortifacient drug RU486 and in NSW successive governments have relied on the vote of anti-abortion MPs for various pieces of legislation.
Another serious issue is that many state, territory and federal politicians simply don’t understand the access problems some reformed laws have created.
Free, safe contraception
Better information, especially for young people in the important areas of contraception and sex education will enhance individual choice and health options.
Ensuring access and equity to contraception is a primary goal of WAAC.
WAAC's five demands remain the same as when they were first articulated in 1972:
Abortion is a woman’s right to choose
Repeal of all abortion laws
Free, safe abortion on demand
Free, safe contraception on demand
No forced sterilisation
The more things change, the more some stay the same!
At top left, a hand written poster from a WAAC campaign during the 1980s.
Below, the same demand on a poster from a 2010 Sydney city rally.
WAAC at Sydney's International Women's Day March 2005